I once imagined that I could live without ingesting any food. I thought that all I needed to sustain my health and vitality was a strict regimen of vitamins and supplement capsules. I had been given or had bought over my several years at college, many large containers of various multi-vitamins and supplements that had always sat dormant in my closet, forsaken by me as the means to a healthy lifestyle. One day, I decided not only that I should start eating those vitamins regularly but that I probably had enough vitamins in my closet to give my body the sustenance it needed without needing to eat food for at least a week, or so. I decided that perhaps science had progressed to the point of allowing the human body to get all the nutrients and vitamins it needed from capsules such as these, and that no one had yet considered this a reality. I jumped at the idea of using my body as a testing ground for my theory in advanced nutritional science. My hope was that I might prove, at least to myself, that I could indeed live for at least a week eating only a strict regimen of vitamins and supplement capsules. Yet, as fate would have it, within only a few days of my the commencement of my experiment in nutritional intake, I found myself in a bathroom down the hall from a class that I was supposed to be attending, retching lots bitter, dry powdery stuff that tasted just like those vitamin and mineral capsules taste in your mouth before you actually swallow them.
From that moment on I decided that nutrition and dieting was a subject to be taken more seriously. And you might think that I’d learned my lesson regarding vitamins and nutritional supplements, or would have at least done a little research at college regarding nutrition to find out more about the subject. However, my major in college had nothing to do with nutrition and just a few years later I found myself with vitamin supplements on my mind again.
Despite having been dealt pretty good genes, I was attracted to the notion that I might be able to somehow cheat at Mother Nature’s game of life. This time I was attracted to the idea that I might be able to bringing up my IQ by way of an herbal concoction. While at the supermarket checkout stand, I picked up a tabloid magazine that had an article about an herbal concoction that was supposed to make you smarter and improve IQ scores when taken on a daily basis. I was never a great student, so I was terribly interested in trying this concoction, if only because I was attending a new college that quarter and needed good grades. So, I decided that I really had nothing to lose trying this herbal concoction to see if it might be able to raise my mental capacity and intelligence. In my haste to raise my IQ, however, I decided that I might become even smarter than what was advertised was possible in that magazine if I took twice the prescribed amount of that herbal concoction. In fact, I decided that if the stuff worked at all, it would be twice as effective and the effects would show up even sooner the more I took. Within hours after taking the first batch of this concoction I began to feel the effects coming on in quite a noticeable, but unsatisfactory way. I was a little queasy at first and within a few more hours I was doubled over holding my gut. I wished that I had never tried a drop of that stuff, and that was about all that I learned from the whole ordeal. That experiment only bruised my ego and if anything the whole ordeal lowered my self-esteem a little.
I decided that greater knowledge of nutrition and health should not come from magazines that you get at the check-out stands at supermarkets. Yet, did I learn?
According to the health gurus on TV, scientists can now apparently prove statistically that anyone who diets and behaves in certain ways can be assured to add longevity to their present given lifespan. I used to think that my given lifespan would be somewhere around what my parent’s lifespan was however health experts I was listening to on afternoon television shows were promoting the idea that we can all expect to live to be very old if only we alter out diets and behave in prescribed ways. For example, I was glad to hear health guru Sanjay Gupta explain that men who enjoy chocolate will live on average four years longer than men who avoid confectioneries. I still cast a happy and healthy smile every time someone offers me chocolate knowing that eating that it is going to lead me down the path to a longer life. The work of those health gurus and their scientific research and statistics compiled about diet and behavior patterns and life spans enlightened me, and I decided that if they were correct that I might easily live to be 125 years of age or more through a few behavioral changes. The idea of selective consumption and behavioral modification in the hopes of achieving extended longevity was a now reality that I was ready to explore.
First, I learned that if I stayed away from cigarettes and caffeine and eat mostly fruit and nuts that I could expect to tack on maybe thirty years to the age that I have decided that I would reached when I eventually succumb to old age. However, I didn’t smoke to being with and I eat lots of nuts and only a little caffeine, so I went on. Next, I learned that I can add another ten years onto my life span if I only walk a few miles every day. So, I got a pedometer to help assure myself that I could add another 10 years to my life and get past the age of one hundred years old. When my feel started to hurt I began investigating sensible shoes since I could not stand the idea of my feet hurting for another 50 years or more.
In fact, I found that there is only so much kale and quinoa that a person can eat without having a natural Pavlovian response to salivate when viewing TV commercials for steak houses, burgers, and fried chicken. Besides, I had already taken on so many healthy lifestyle changes that I decided if there is any credence to the work of those statisticians and researchers then I should live to be around 200 years, or so. You might think that I would be content with the satisfaction that I could make myself so healthy, but I was not.
Living my life within the parameters set by the physicians who have proven what behaviors statistically lead to greater longevity, I found that a living a healthy lifestyle got a little boring. Thanks to the work of researchers in France, however, I learned that a glass of red wine every day is good for the heart and thus will increase my longevity. So, I decided that I would not only add red wine to my diet but I decided that if one glass of red wine every day is supposed to be good for the body, well then a bottle day should be even better. Of course, drinking lots of red wine did liven up the behavior modification program that I was trying to keep to as a means to achieving longevity. However, my new regiment of a bottle of red wine a day also led me to the good old behavior modification system known as the Twelve Step program at the local chapter of Alcoholics Anonymous. I can now say that I am a recovering alcoholic thanks in part to the advice of the health gurus and to my wild aspirations to do whatever it takes to live longer.
It was in my first Twelve Step program that I learned about a healthy alternative to my ongoing quest for health and happiness. It is a simple saying to think about whenever I need help accepting who I really am. And it goes like this; “May I have the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, The courage to change the things I can, And the wisdom to know the difference.”